Reflections of life in death: an investigation of archaeo-biographies at the Perry Site (1lu25)
This study seeks to examine life and identity at the Perry site (1LU25) through osteological and archaeological analysis. The Perry site, located in northwestern Alabama, is a multi-component site dating to the Archaic and Mississippian time periods. To better understand life and identity for the people of Perry, a multi-scalar approach is used. At the largest scale, patterns concerning the entire populations of both time periods are considered, followed by an investigation of the different group identities for distinct subsets of the population. Finally, identity is studied at the individual level through the creation and consideration of archaeo-biographies. I define archaeo-biographies as all the various facets of an individual’s life and identity, accumulated through their lifetime, that can be examined through archaeological and osteological analysis, including, but not limited to: age, sex, genetic relationships, status, rank, health, and traumatic physical experience. By considering all aspects of a person’s life as a whole, a more complete view of a person’s individual identity can be understood. Further, three hypotheses were also tested. The first seeks to understand how genetic relationships affect burial clustering, if at all, and if this changes from the Archaic to the Mississippian. To test this hypothesis biological distance analysis was conducted using dental metric and non-metric data. The second hypothesis seeks to understand how identity affects burial, and the final hypothesis examines grave good distribution patterns to better understand society and social organization between the two time periods. It was found that genetic relationships in both time periods do not appear to have been an important factor in burial placement. The only exception to this appears to be related to the only structures at the site, where close genetic relations are interred within and around the buildings. Secondly, identity, and its different aspects, were found to affect how individuals were interred, specifically regarding grave good allotment and burial location. Finally, grave good distribution patterns did not differ significantly between the two time periods, with both appearing to have been achievement-based societies, rather than based on ascription.